The Honourable Chief Judge Alstergren welcomed at our Family Law Forum

The Honourable Chief Judge Alstergren welcomed at our Family Law Forum

Friday, 3 August 2018

The Honourable Chief Judge Alstergren of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia addressed more than 170 attendees at Victoria Legal Aid's most recent Family Law Forum.

The Chief Judge highlighted valuable work of the legal assistance sector and commended Victoria Legal Aid, community legal centres and private lawyers who assist clients under a grant of aid, for their role in helping families resolve disputes.

Associate Director, Family Law, Gayathri Paramasivam, was delighted to welcome the Honourable Chief Judge Alstergren to deliver the opening address.  

'His Honour’s address on current initiatives and future challenges within the courts provided useful context for the day’s program as we reflected on practice and continuous improvement in a changing environment.' 

His Honour also reflected on the current and future state of the family law system and discussed how the Federal Circuit Court (FCC) is managing overwhelming demand in the system.

Every year the FCC clears 90 per cent of its matters, which leaves a 10 per cent backlog to carry through to the next year. Before the FCC call overs that started earlier this year, there were 18,000 cases in the backlog. To alleviate this issue, the FCC is trialing new initiatives and processes, including an interesting pilot in Brisbane that supports Registrars to manage specific pools of cases.

'We were also fortunate to have Judge Williams from the FCC participate in question time at the forum, providing tips for lawyers and listening to their concerns,' Gayathri added.

L–R: Executive Director, Family, Youth and Children's Law, Nicole Rich; Judge Williams and Chief Judge Alstergren from the Federal Circuit Court; and Associate Director, Family Law, Gayathri Paramasivam
L–R: Executive Director, Family, Youth and Children's Law, Nicole Rich; Judge Williams and Chief Judge Alstergren from the Federal Circuit Court; and Associate Director, Family Law, Gayathri Paramasivam

The Family Law Forum focussed on the needs of children and young people in the family law system and promoting practice to achieve outcomes that are in their best interests.

A range of speakers from Victoria Legal Aid, community legal centres, private practice and the Department of Health and Human Services, spoke to the challenges and successes of specific cases, areas of practice and key issues.

Sessions considered a range of topics relating to the promotion of children’s best interests, including:

  • the difficult cases where the continued viability of a child having an ongoing relationship with a parent is in question
  • the effects of trauma and parental conflict on children 
  • how the role of the DHHS Liaison Officer can be most useful
  • practical guidance on the requirements for an application for spousal maintenance, and the tricky process of ascertaining merit where the laywer doesn't have information about capacity to pay.

Our Family Law Forums provide an opportunity for lawyers representing clients in legally-aided family law matters to share insights into practice, explore pertinent issues, and build relationships with other professionals.

The next forum will be held on 23 November 2018.

Contact

For further information about the recent or upcoming Family Law Forum please contact:

Watch the video 

To watch the online video from the July forum please contact Professional Legal Education via ple@vla.vic.gov.au

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